Q&A: Finding Jewish Vital Records in Poland

By David A. Fryxell Premium
Q. I’m researching my Jewish ancestors in Poland. How can I determine if any vital records are available for a town there?

A. You may be pleasantly surprised that Jewish vital records have survived in Poland for more than 600 towns. In general, the Polish State Archives holds records more than 100 years old, while more recent records remain at each locality’s civil registration office. The Family History Library has microfilmed more than 2,000 reels of records from Polish archives, mostly from 1808 through the 1880s. Search the catalog by the name of the town and look for a Jewish records heading. You can download an inventory of these records here.

The JewishGen website has an extensive guide, organized by town, to extant records and which of the 75 different archives maintains these records. Also see Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories by Miriam Weiner, published in cooperation with the Polish State Archives.

The SEZAM database searches all the holdings of the Polish State Archives. JewishGen notes that Jewish records are indicated by Polish terms such as “Akta metrykalne zydowskiej” (Jewish vital records), “Akta Stanu Cywilnego gminy zydowskiej” (Civil Status Records of the Jewish Community), “Urzad Stanu Cywilnego Gminy Wyznania Mojzeszowego” (Municipal Civil Status Office of the Jewish Faith) and “Akta stanu cywilnego Okregu Bozniczego” (Files of the Civil District Synagogue).
From the December 2013 Family Tree Magazine